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Football, Ethnicity and Community

The Life of an African-Caribbean Football Club


Paul Ian Campbell

Winner of the British Sociological Association Philip Abrams Memorial Prize 2017

This book is a case study of an African-Caribbean-founded football club, Meadebrook Cavaliers, from the English East Midlands. Covering the years 1970 to 2010, it seeks to address the paucity of research on the British African-Caribbean male experience in leisure and sport as well as on the relationship between «race» and local-level football. The development of the club was intimately connected to wider changes in the social and sporting terrain. Based on a mix of archival and ethnographic research, the book examines the club’s growth over four decades, exploring the attitudes, social realities and identity politics of its African-Caribbean membership and the varying demands and expectations of the wider black community. In doing so, it shows how studies of minority ethnic and local football clubs can shed light on the changing social identities and cultural dynamics of the communities that constitute them.

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Chapter 5: From parks team to football club: Social policy, generational change and grassroots football in Leicester


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From parks team to football club: Social policy, generational change and grassroots football in Leicester


In 1981 Meadebrook Cavaliers was a successful parks team which played its home matches on Central Park just south of Leicester city centre. By 2000 they were playing home matches on the club’s privately owned eleven-acre ground, which also had a clubhouse and changing facilities. That season Cavaliers also won the Leicestershire Senior League Premier Division for the first and only time. It was widely accepted by many within and outside of the club that the title winning side had been paid to play. In short, during this period Cavaliers had become a player-paying football club. This chapter argues that these highlighted developments were only in part connected to sport. They were also linked to a particular wave of wider social policies and to a changing identity politics of a new wave of third-generation black Britons.

It is important to note that those who were refered to as the third-generation within the Cavaliers club were not a new generation of African-Caribbeans. Instead they were a combination of the last wave of younger second-generation black sportsmen and the first wave of the third-generation. For sake of clarity, however, henceforth I, like the second-generation African-Caribbeans within this study, will also refer to this cohort as third-generation African-Caribbeans.

There exists a body of research on the development of sports clubs and...

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